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Almost flushed out of Tora Bora, Al Qaeda cracks

Almost flushed out of Tora Bora, Al Qaeda cracks

Author:
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 12, 2001

Kabul/Washington, December 11: Afghan fighters chased Osama bin Laden's forces to ''one last base'' in the mountains on Tuesday. Tribal forces, aided by a rain of American bombs, said they pushed diehard fighters from Al Qaeda network into a final stronghold near Tora Bora in the east.

CNN said Eastern Alliance forces had given the fighters a deadline to surrender or die. It showed pictures of bodies left on the mountainside, anammunition dump and even weight-training equipment abandoned in an Al Qaeda complex of caves and bunkers. The surrender deadline was 8 am on Wednesday, the station said.

Anti-Taliban Commander Mohammad Amin told Reuters by satellite telephone from Jalalabad that fighting in the Spin Ghar area, south of Tora Bora, had subsided after the dramatic advances.

''Bin Laden's supporters are now confined to one last base in Spin Ghar,'' said Amin, an aide to local military Chief Hazrat Ali.

Pakistan said neither Osama bin Laden nor his followers would find sanctuary if they managed to slip across the nearby border.

With whereabouts of bin Laden and ousted Taliban leader Mullah Omar still a mystery, Afghanistan's new interim leader Hamid Karzai vowed to wipe out terrorism in the country. In an interview to the Washington Post, he said ''We must finish them all, completely burn them out.''

Karzai also vowed to capture Omar and put him on trial. He pledged to take all weapons out of circulation in Afghanistan. ''The gun has to stop ruling the country,'' Karzai said.

US officials said that despite the ousting of the Taliban and progress against Al Qaeda, the fight was far from over. ''The war in Afghanistan is not won,'' said Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. ''It is a classic military mistake to leave a partially defeated enemy on the battlefield.''

Karzai urged the US not to walk away from his country once its business there was over - as it did once its mujahideen allies drove Soviet occupiers out over a decade ago, ignoring the destructive faction fighting that followed.

In Tokyo, experts began a conference on rebuilding a country bombed to near oblivion. Some said that after more than 20 years of war rebuilding could take a decade and cost $25 billion. As work began, Afghans hurried to repair Kabul airport's main runway so commercial flights could resume this week. (Agencies)
 


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